CCNE Vs ACEN: Are These Two Nursing Program Accreditation The Same?

Which accreditation is better for nursing programs?
Which accreditation is better for nursing programs?

An accredited nursing program provides you with well-rounded education and prepares you for numerous nursing occupations and a fruitful career.

Nursing accreditation denotes that an academic institution’s nursing program meets established professional requirements for educational quality and has been validated.

CCNE and ACEN are the two most popular accreditations which often turn into a hard quiz for students interested in nursing. CCNE vs ACEN: Which is better?

Since it’s a critical thing that directly affects your career choices, don’t skip out this post!

What Is CCNE Accreditation?

CCNE accreditation is the nursing program accreditation provided by the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education).

The organization expects to enhance nursing education’s overall quality and keep an eye on academic nursing, particularly how it impacts the public’s health and safety.

The CCNE provides accreditation to post-graduate, graduate, and undergraduate nursing programs. Simply put, CCNE accreditation looks into and evaluates nursing programs.

Once an organization gets a CCNE accreditation, they will maintain their accreditation through self-assessments, peer feedback (from those related to the nursing program), and visits and checks from the CCNE.

What Is ACEN Accreditation?

Like the CCNE, the ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) also provides institutions with accreditation for their nursing programs.

This organization shares the same goals as the CCNE, which are promoting consistent, reliable, and safe nursing education and supporting academic nursing.

ACEN accreditation looks into the following aspects of a standard nursing program:

  • Types of utilized resources
  • Evaluation plan
  • Faculty and qualifications
  • Plan of research and study
  • Course catalog

Once a university receives ACEN accreditation, it needs to ensure its nursing program meets all the requirements and finish the process within two years.

Nursing programs need to maintain their ACEN accreditation which includes regular visits and checks from this organization.

CCNE Vs ACEN: How Do They Differ?

Age of Organization

Age of Organization
Age of Organization

When it comes to age, the CCNE is a younger organization than ACEN. That means, so far, the ACEN has more experience in evaluating institutions and time to advance its accreditation and evaluation processes.

However, both organizations generally have excellent processes that satisfy national standards.

Types of Nursing Programs Accredited

Many universities choose ACEN accreditation since it covers all types and levels of nursing education, including:

  • Practical nursing certifications
  • Diplomas
  • Doctorates, including DNP specialist certificates
  • Master’s degrees or post-master’s certificates
  • Bachelor’s degrees
  • Associate degrees

Notably, among all agencies recognized by the Department of Education, the ACEN is the only one which accredits all kinds of nursing programs.

On the other hand, CCNE accreditation is narrower.

To be precise, the organization accredits only postgraduate, graduate, and bachelor’s programs, including entry-to-practice residency and advanced practice certificate programs.

Initial Accreditation Process

Initial Accreditation Process
Initial Accreditation Process

Institutions looking to gain initial CCNE accreditations usually begin by requesting to change to the candidate status.

After changing to the new status, they usually have to wait 12-18 months until the organization runs an evaluation on-site and accredit their programs. The typical span of CCNE accreditation for a new applicant is five years.

ACEN accreditation goes quite the same way as CCNE accreditation.

In particular, nursing programs planning on initial accreditation have to apply to be applicants for accreditation and wait two years for an on-site evaluation. Similarly, ACEN initial accreditation can last five years maximum.

During the on-site evaluation, both the CCNE and ACEN review various aspects of the program, including student outcomes, like retention rates and NCLEX-RN pass rates, program resources, faculty qualifications, and course materials.

Accreditation also involves a self-assessment conducted by the university.

While both organizations assess a program’s specific components to inspect and ensure its academic practices’ quality, the CCNE digs deeper into the program’s goals and purpose, with more emphasis on the benefits it brings to the public and community health.

Maintaining Accreditation

If a university wants to maintain its CCNE or ACEN accreditation, it must undergo particular processes.

While ACEN accreditation maintenance takes regular visits from the agency’s representatives to inspect any changes to the program, maintaining CCNE accreditation focuses primarily on self-reflection and regulation.

Though the latter maintenance process also involves visits from the agency’s representatives, self-assessments and peer reviews from faculty takes up a more important part.

Additional Offerings

Additional Offerings
Additional Offerings

While the Department of Education has recognized both commissions, the ACEN operates in a closer relation with other government commissions than the other, meaning it can provide students with assistance programs.

The beauty of these programs is that they give students access to job-seeking services, financial aid opportunities, and counseling resources.

Conclusion: Which Is Best For Nursing?

Overall, the two biggest differences between CCNE vs ACEN are:

  • The former concentrates on graduate and baccalaureate programs, the later accredits nursing programs of all levels.
  • The latter offers more job, financial, and counseling opportunities, ensuring the best support for students.

Both agencies are designed to promote nursing education and ascertain that it develops in a consistent, reliable, and safe manner.

However, the ACEN is more likely to be the go-to choice of academic institutions because of larger coverage and extra offerings. But accreditation for specific nursing degrees is different from accreditation for the whole university.

It’s up to you whether to choose between more focus with fewer offerings or less focus with more offerings.

Still, don’t overly pressure yourself since there are plenty of nursing jobs available, and skilled nurses of any school are always in high demand.

Hope you can reach a suitable decision for yourself!